Walloons are a Roman people, who arrived during the time of the conquest of Gaul by the Romans, and remained in areas rich in natural resources, in what is now Belgium, Northern France, the Saar. They were experts on mining and processing natural resources, including the exploitation of native silver, gold and precious stones. Due to that, their craftsmanship was highly appreciated at all the princely, royal and imperial courts. In the Middle Ages there were few of them. They formed a special caste, possessing secret knowledge, like alchemists and astrologers. They had a big influence on the rulers. They were called engineers. Walloons didn't carry out hard physical work but took samples instead and evaluated the contents of deposits. Only later all those who participated in the work of mining, regardless of nationality, came to be called Walloons, even if they had nothing in common with these Roman people. Anyone searching for treasures was called a Walloon.
From the documents we know that Walloons already had worked for the princes of the Piast dynasty in the region of the Sudetes as early as the 11th century. In the basin of the Szklarka and Kamienna rivers, as well as the High Jizera Ridge, not only had they found deposits of gold and precious stones, but also discovered deposits of pyrites (iron sulfides), used in iron smelting as well as in the production of sulfuric acid. What remains of pyrite exploitation, are the several hundred years old mining pits in the Zbójeckie Skały region. Whereas, at the mouth of the Szklarska Struga and Kamienna rivers, there are the foundations of the old sulfuric acid plant.
Contrary to the fantasies, the greatest wealth were not gems, but glass-making, based on the deposits of quartz and numerous water courses, which became the foundation for the development of settlements. The largest quartz deposit found in Europe is the one that runs from near the Izerskie Garby next to the Jizera Crossroads, to the Kamieniecki Ridge. It has several kilometers long, and is still exploited without interruption since the early Middle-Ages. It is known that where quartz of hydrothermal origin is, at high pressure and with aqueous solutions at work the selection of different chemical compounds take place. Therefore, crystals in the Jizera Mountains are gold-bearing, although extracting them is not profitable anymore. There are also precious stones here: crystals - like amethyst, mountain crystal and golden-and-brown smoky quartz. Garnets - pyrite and chalcopyrite, as well as pyrope - a red garnet gem. Sapphires, emeralds, rubies and zircons were also washed here. They are still here today - but small fragments mostly, more of a curiosity.
The most important base for treasure hunters wasLower Szklarska Poreba which was then called the Old Village. It was lying by the oldest route from Silesia to Bohemia. This was the route in the western Karkonosze, the earliest mentioned in medieval legends and writings, the so-called Czech Path. There were two important places in the area of Old Village. The first was the Eagle Rock with a chapel, in which each Walloon held a 7-day fasting and attending seven Masses, before heading out for work. Here, too, all his tools were consecrated; and after the Confession and Communion they promised a fair distribution of the goods found. Half went to Schaffgotsch, the owner of these lands. The other half had to be divided between the church and the finder. For their quarter, they were still obliged to give something for the alms, and to maintain the parish. Not much was left to them. Those who have not kept their promises were punished severely. Once a year, sentences were issued by the Reeve arriving from Jelenia Gora. These were issued in the Court Inn, in next to the old linden tree. The tree is still here. It is a monument of nature, and is called the court linden.
Near the chapel at the Orla Skala, there is a second place called the Walloon signpost or "the sugar head", today known as the Wobbling Stone (Chybotek). Pagan sacrifices (bloody ones as well) were made there, as the Walloons believed that they must win favors not only of heavenly powers, but also of the powers of evil, according to the principle of "light a candle for God and a candle-stub for Devil".
To this day, there are numerous traces of the medieval geologists - Walloon mysterious signs engraved on the rocks, pointing the way to the treasure of the Mountain Spirit, natural deposits and veins. Walloons wrote down their secrets in the secret books of Walloon. Walloon books have great historical value and prove the eternal human yearning to gain wealth. To this day, there is no shortage of amateurs looking for various minerals, as evidenced by the numerous collections, beautiful specimens of the treasures of our mountains in the Museum of the Earth and the Mineralogical Museum.
Glass Traditions - wandering glassworks
For centuries the leading area of the local manufacturing industry was glass-making. The first glassworks was founded in XIV century in Lower Szklarska Poręba, which is the oldest part of the village by the Szklarski Stream. A settlement was established around the smelter, not only resided by glassworkers, but also by woodcutters and smelters. Over time perhaps, the inn was built and farms were created in the forest clearings. This out-of-the-way place was located among the large tracts of the forest, over a swift mountain stream, in an area rich in quartz deposits. The exact number of glassworks in Szklarska Poręba at the time is not known, but one can suppose that in the Middle Ages the main area of their location was a valley, which is located in Lower Szklarska Poręba rising along the stream along the Szklarski Stream toward the Black Ridge massif, in which the melting of glass seeped over time up the Kamienna River. After depleting raw materials (quartz and wood) it was more profitable at that time to move the smelter further into the mountains instead of incurring the effort of transport. Therefore, the glassworks was called "wandering" and because settlements, mainly pastoral ones, were created in the clearings, the name Szklarska Poręba is directly derived from the rich tradition of glassmaking (as the word "szklarska" means something associated with glass or glass-making, and the word 'poręba' literally means 'a clearing').
The medieval smelting mills produced the so-called 'forest glass' (vitrium silvestre) or 'mountain glass' (vitrum montanum), with a low transparency due to the contamination with ashes, and numerous air bubbles and slightly green tint, hence the common name "green glass".
The heyday of the glass manufacture had started in 1617 when Wolfgang Preussler, who came from the neighboring Czech, built in the glassworks in the White Valley. The most significant event in the history of Szklarska Poreba was the opening of "Josephinenhütte" - the "Josephine" glassworks on 7 July 1842. Almost one fifth of the people in Szklarska Poreba found employment in the local glassworks. If we add to that the home-workers employed in home paint shops and glass polishing workshops, we will see that the glass industry was the foundation of existence for almost every local family. In the second half of the nineteenth century the fame of glass produced here was already widespread and well deserved. Glass from the "Josephine" glassworks was not only exported to other European countries, but overseas as well. Decorated glass - polished or painted - enjoyed particular popularity, and local products are valuable exhibits in many museums and private collection of glass. Glassworks in Szklarska Poreba developed throughout the entire history of the town and is its pride to this day. Although the Crystal Glassworks Factory "Julia" has been closed for many years now, the traditions of glass making are continued by local the artisans and artists.